Drivers' decision-making when attempting to cross an intersection results from choice between affordances

  • Marti Geoffrey
  • Morice Antoine H.P.
  • Montagne Gilles

  • Virtual reality
  • Affordances
  • Intersection crossing
  • Crossing possibilities
  • Stopping possibilities


In theory, a safe approach to an intersection implies that drivers can simultaneously manage two scenarios: they either choose to cross or to give way to an oncoming vehicle. In this article we formalize the critical time for safe crossing (CT cross) and the critical time for safe stopping (CT stop) to represent crossing and stopping possibilities, respectively. We describe these critical times in terms of affordances and empirically test their respective contribution to the driver's decision-making process. Using a driving simulator, three groups of participants drove cars with identical acceleration capabilities and different braking capabilities. They were asked to try to cross an intersection where there was an oncoming vehicle, if they deemed the maneuver to be safe. If not, they could decide to stop or, as a last resort, make an emergency exit. The intersections were identical among groups. Results showed that although the crossing possibilities (CT cross) were the same for all groups, there were between-group differences in crossing frequency. This suggests that stopping possibilities (CT stop) play a role in the driver's decision-making process, in addition to the crossing possibilities. These results can be accounted for by a behavioral model of decision making, and provide support for the hypothesis of choice between affordances.